Jason Day lights up The Australian Golf Club

Jason Day mastered the treacherous winds that gusted around The Australian Golf Club on Friday to charge up the Australian Open leaderboard to be seven shots ahead of his chief international rival, Jordan Spieth.

Seven shots may sound like a sizeable gap between the tournament's major drawcards; not according to Day, even after he enjoyed a succession of birdies on the back nine to finish the second round at eight under, just one shot behind leader Lucas Herbert.

The obvious question: Is seven shots enough to keep Spieth at bay?

"Well, we have two days left so, no, it's not enough," Day said after his three-under-par round of 68.

"It's Jordan Spieth. He is obviously solid, and if he can get something going on the weekend he can hole a lot of putts, make a lot of birdies, and make a charge. And he usually does make a charge on the weekend.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see him pushing his way up the pack because in the position he is in, there is sometimes not a lot of pressure on your shoulders. So you can just go out there and freewill it, make a ton of birdies and move up the leaderboard. Hopefully I don't see him in my rear-vision mirror."

Day sometimes needed his rear-vision mirror during Friday, as the gusting winds that intensified mid-afternoon had players struggling to find their bearings. The morning players again had the better of the conditions, as it was relatively calm. But as soon as the afternoon players such as the trio of Day, Geoff Ogilvy and Rod Pampling began their round, the ill wind began to blow from the north east. It sent shots in all directions. It only calmed again when Day was playing the final few holes.

Day proved up to all that, playing several exceptional recovery shots, including on the 340-metre par-four 3rd hole that set up his first birdie of the day. He remained poised all round, happily chatting with various members of the large gallery, not letting anything upset his rhythm and momentum. With it came a succession of birdies on the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th.

He appeared irritated only on the 17th green, when several off-shots saw him check himself; then it was back to his customary cool, calm demeanour. Day admitted the wind was a nuisance.

"When it's blowing east-north east, it makes it pretty difficult to hit your lines because there is a lot of cross breezes," Day said.

"The gusts can make it very difficult.

"Still I was very pleased with the way I played today, because I gave myself the opportunity to make a lot of birdies. I just needed to tidy up, and was a little disappointed with how I ended the round. I was in a good position on the 17th and made a bogey."

So far, Day has made 15 birdies. He believes as many will be required in the final two rounds for him to win his first Australian Open.

"I haven't won this year. So winning the Australian Open would be a nice little end of the year cap to know that it wasn't such a disappointing year. To have the Stonehaven Cup on the mantelpiece would be great. And I don't want to win one of these. I want to win multiple Australian Opens.

"It will be a great kick-start going into next season. I just know how the boost of confidence Jordan has received from winning this in the past."

There's that name again. That figure looming ever so large in the rear-vision mirror.